Imagine if the music in America had been controlled by the government. Which artists would have still been able to make it? What albums would have been denied release? This is a thought-provoking hypothetical because American music has been so much about breaking barriers and defining new sounds. More than any other art, entertainment, media or industry, music illustrates the freedom we have in this country.

In Iran, they haven't been so fortunate. Since the country's revolution in 1979, pop music has been banned, female vocals have been restricted and creative innovation has been curbed. All music in Iran is regulated and censored by Ershad, the Ministry of Islamic Guidance, which has separate committees for judging an artist's musical style and lyrical content. To get approval from the government, a song has to pass each committee's standards, and that is a rarity these days. Additionally, live performances are also scrutinized, with Ershad monitoring the appearance and actions of artists on stage.